Who shall bring a charge V ERSE 33. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God elect? This and the following verse show how fully the security of believers is provided for by the plan of redemption. What is it they have to fear under the government of a just and powerful God? There is nothing to be dreaded but sin; if that be pardoned and removed, there is nothing left to fear. In the strongest manner possible, the apostle declares that the sins of believers are pardoned, and shows the ground on which that pardon rests. To them, therefore, there can be neither a disquieting accusation nor condemnation. Who can lay any thing? ti>v ejgkale>sei; the word ejgkalei~n means in jus vocare , to summon before the bar of justice. The question is in the form of a challenge, and implies the strongest confidence that no accuser against God’s elect can appear. If the law of God be satisfied, “the strength of sin,” its condemning power, is destroyed. Even conscience, though it upbraids, does not terrify. It produces the ingenuous sorrow of children, and not the despairing anguish of the convict, because it sees that all the ends of punishment are fully answered in the death of Christ, who bore our sins in his own body on the tree. God’s elect , i.e., those whom God has chosen; see ver. 29. The word elect is sometimes used in a secondary sense for beloved, which idea is implied in its literal sense, as those chosen are those who are peculiarly beloved. This sense may be given to it in 1 Peter 2:4, “elect and precious” may be beloved and precious. And so in a multitude of cases it were optional with a writer to say chosen or beloved, as the one implies the other. But this does not prove that chosen means beloved, or that the idea of choice is to be excluded from the idea of the word. The elect are those whom God has chosen out of the world to be the members of his family or kingdom; just as under the Old Testament the Hebrews, whom he had chosen to be his peculiar people, were his elect. Men may dispute as to what the elect are chosen to, and why some are chosen and not others. But there seems to be no ground for dispute whether “the elect” mean the chosen. This passage, however, proves that those who are elect, and whose election has become recognized, are in a state in which they are free from condemnation. No one can lay any thing to their charge. The demands of justice as regards them have been satisfied. This is not true of those who are chosen merely to church privileges. There is an election, therefore, unto grace and 448 salvation. The elect are safe. This is the grand theme of this jubilant chapter. It is God who justifieth , Qeo<v oJ dikaiw~n. Editors and commentators are about equally divided on the question whether this and the following clauses should be taken interrogatively or affirmatively. If the former, the idea is, that as God is the being against whom we have sinned, and who alone has the administration of justice in his hands, if he does not accuse there can be no accuser. Who shall lay any thing against the elect of God? Shall God, who justifies them? In favor of this view is the fact, that the questions in ver. 32, and also in ver. 35, are answered by questions, and hence the questions in vers. 33, 34, are most naturally so answered. Nevertheless, the impossibility of any accusation being sustained against the elect of God, is better expressed by the affirmation. It is God who is their justifier. If he justifies, who can condemn? Besides, according to the current representation of Scripture, God is the judge, not the accuser. To justify, is to declare the claims of justice satisfied. If God, the supreme judge, makes this declaration, it must be true, and it must stop every mouth. No rational creature, no enlightened conscience, can call for the punishment of those whom God justifies. If justice is not satisfied, there can be no justification, no peace of conscience, no security either for salvation or for the moral government of God. The Bible knows nothing of mere pardon. There can be no pardon except on the ground of satisfaction of justice. It is by declaring a man just, (that is, that justice in relation to him is satisfied,) that he is freed from the penalty of the law, and restored to the favor of God. VERSE 34. Who is he that condemneth? i.e., no one can condemn. In support of this assertion there are, in this verse, four conclusive reasons presented; the death of Christ, his resurrection, his exaltation, and his intercession. It is Christ that died. By his death, as an atonement for our sins, all ground of condemnation is removed. The death of Christ could not be a proof that the believer cannot be condemned, unless his death removed the ground of condemnation; and it could not remove the ground of condemnation, unless it satisfied the demands of justice. His death, therefore, was a satisfaction, and not merely an exhibition of love, or a didactic symbol meant to impress some moral truth. Yea, rather, that is 449 risen again. The resurrection of Christ, as the evidence of the sacrifice of his death being accepted, and of the validity of all his claims, is a much more decisive proof of the security of all who trust in him, than his death could be. See on chap. 1:4: 4:25: Acts 17:31; 1 Corinthians 15:17, etc. Who is even at the right hand of God , i.e., is associated with God in his universal dominion. Psalm 110:1, “Sit thou on my right hand,” i.e., share my throne; Ephesians 1:20; Revelation 3:21. “As I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Hebrews 1:3, “Who sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” From these and other passages in their connection, it is evident that Christ is exalted to universal dominion, all power in heaven and earth is given into his hands. If this is the case, how great the security it affords the believer! He who is engaged to effect his salvation is the Director of all events, and of all worlds. Who also maketh intercession for us , i.e., who acts as our advocate, pleads our cause before God, presents those considerations which secure for us pardon and the continued supply of the divine grace; see on ver. 26; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1. Christ, as seated at the right hand of God, and invested with universal dominion, is able to save: his interceding for us is the evidence that he is willing to save — willing not only in the sense of being disposed to, but in the sense of purposing. He intends to save those who put their trust in him, and therefore in their behalf he presents before God the merit of his mediatorial work, and urges their salvation as the reward promised him in the covenant of redemption. He is our patron, in the Roman sense of the word, one who undertakes our case; an advocate, whom the Father heareth always. How complete, then, the security of those for whom he pleads! 42 Of course this language is figurative; the meaning is, that Christ continues since his resurrection and exaltation to secure for his people the benefits of his death, every thing comes fromGod through him, and for his sake.